(Photo: FIH)

Taking part in sport is a healthy activity, so why undo all the good work by filling up on greasy snacks after a game? Until now, Dutch sports club canteens have offered hungry hockey players little other than deep-fried fast food. So the Dutch hockey association is working with local farmers in an effort to make sure healthy snacks are a fixture on every sports club menu.

The Rabobank Hockey World Cup is taking place close to Westland, the Dutch region at the centre of the horticultural industry. In Westland, flowers, plants, fruit and vegetables are grown under glass and exported to the rest of the world, in fact, the Netherlands is the world’s leading exporter of tomatoes. And Dutch horticultural success has even caught the eye of the music world. Beyoncé uses the world’s first blue orchid, which was developed in Westland, to promote her perfume. 

During the Rabobank Hockey World Cup, everyone will be able to find out more about Dutch greenhouse horticulture and why it has become so successful and innovative. In addition, there will be a special emphasis on the importance of a healthy diet. The Dutch hockey association hopes a visit to the greenhouse will inspire Dutch canteen cooks to come up with healthier alternatives to French fries and hamburgers. 

‘The greenhouse will be a meeting place for people to talk about hockey, about horticulture and about the importance of a healthy lifestyle,’ says Arne Westerling, chairman of the Westland Marketing foundation. "We’ll be showing our international visitors what delicious things grow in greenhouses. Some 21,000 school children will also visit the World Cup and they can find out, for example, how tomatoes grow. We want to stimulate a healthy diet, which is important in the battle against obesity."

A team of professional cooks will be on hand to use Westland produce to make great tasting food and snacks. "We want to show people how quick and easy it is to cook with vegetables," says Westerling. "In addition, visitors will be able to taste food inspired by whichever country is centre stage at the World Cup that day." The healthy diet theme will also be reinforced by a series of talks and workshops in both the greenhouse and the Kyocera Stadium itself.

John-John Dohmen is captain of the Belgium men's hockey team and he is very aware of the importance of healthy eating for elite athletes. "Every day we take care of what we eat. Our national team works closely with nutritionists. They don't choose the food for us but they give us information about what to eat at the right moment. So we have a plan to help us to eat well. We are not obliged to follow it every time but we do because we always want to perform at the top of our game."

 

Hydration is also very important to hockey players. John-John says that the team drinks a lot of water in the lead-up to the game so they are fully hydrated.

 

"We eat a very healthy diet, and it includes a variation of dairy products, fruits, vegetables, proteins (meat/fish), carbohydrates and water. On match day we eat a carbohydrate-heavy meal three hours before warming up."